What Researchers Want from Labs

A new study reveals sharp differences between what researchers say they need in their labs and what they think their employers find important

September 01, 2003 |

What do researchers at pharmaceutical and biotech companies and institutes want from their laboratories? That's the basic question behind the BD&C/RICS Lab Facilities Research Study, conducted by the Reed Research Group for this magazine and RICS, an independent, nonprofit organization with 110,000 members in 120 countries that performs research on all aspects of the commercial real estate industry.

The study was done online and drew 224 respondents, from academia (29%), biotech firms (15%), pharmaceutical companies (13%), medical centers and government labs (9% each), and biopharmaceutical companies and contract research organizations (5% each), as well as drug discovery companies, private research institutes, and genomics and proteomics research centers.

Half the respondents listed their primary job responsibility as scientific research (50%), 17% said lab management, 7% teaching, 5% general administration, with the rest listing diverse responsibilities. The median size of their respective companies or organizations was 933 employees, with 48% in entities that employed 1,000 or more. The respondents averaged more than seven years with their current employers, 39% having more than 10 years of service with their current organization.

Nearly half (45%) said their company or organization planned to build, renovate, or add to a laboratory within the next two years.

Scientists ranked the quality of their scientific equipment (4.6 on a scale of 5), the technical resources to perform research (4.5), and safety (4.4) highest, on average, when asked to rate the importance of factors with regard to their own research facility. Aesthetic quality of design ranked among the lowest scores (3.1).

When asked to rank the most important factors in a lab facility, researchers said adequacy of lab space (62%), quality of equipment (60%), and technical resources (45%) were most important — quite different from what they thought their employers cared most about: cost of maintenance (42%) and initial cost (37%).

Complete survey results can be accessed at www.bdcmag.com. More information about study co-sponsor RICS can be obtained at www.rics.org/usa.

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